Sense and Sensibility

November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

There is a mess, our economy. We need sensible solutions to the mess, not ideological strongholds. We need to pay down our (bi-partisan) debt we’ve already incurred by reducing spending and securing more revenue. It’s just common sense and instead we are choosing to be delusional. We can have it all and someone else (China) will pay for it.

I simply don’t support the assertion that we can cut spending without bringing in more revenue to offset the deficit. We need to be doing both. We haven’t been doing both which is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place. We engage in activities we’re unwilling to actually pay for. Our debt has historically been driven up by war and historically society has supported war through taxation (historically a liquor tax until Prohibition). Now we rely on American credit, a practice we even nobly extended into our housing market. No one has to pay.

I just can’t agree with the Republican stance to cut taxes at a time like this as well as the mentality of “let it fail”. I question the common sense of a person who still touts free market economics after what we just withstood and are continuing to try to withstand. Who knows what would have happened without the stimulus packages, bailouts and housing recovery programs. If we had let it all fail, where would we be? My instinct tells me it would not be such a good place. The criticism is those programs didn’t jumpstart our economy but did anyone have any illusions that we would just snap back that quickly? The more you look into what happened the more you realize how bad things had gotten.

After a week of reviewing where various parties and factions stand on the issues, I still side with the Democrats with a couple of caveats:

1 – We need to more aggressively get government spending under control. We should ask ourselves WWSJD? (What Would Steve Jobs Do?) I have no doubt in my mind every government agency and program could be made more efficient with less resources. Revamping programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is a necessity. I do believe the Democrats have shown a willingness to do this but I believe they need to be much more aggressive. They are only scratching the surface.

2 – Going after the 1% is not the only answer for revenue (not to mention it’s divisive). I agree the distribution of wealth in this country has gone awry. I also agree the 1% should be at least paying the tax rate they were during the Clinton administration (It is still dramatically lower than they’ve paid historically). The argument of class warfare is ridiculous; there are even a number of movements by the 1% who agree their taxes should go up. (Buffet RuleWe Stand with the 99%Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength)

The truth is we have all benefitted in some way. The answer can’t be that it’s solely up to the government to sort this out (otherwise we’re screwed). It can’t be that a certain percentage of the population will save the day (although they should be doing their part). We should all play a role in this.

When you start asking yourself what you can do it becomes a lot more daunting but a lot more interesting. I’m not interested in Occupy Wall St. or the Tea Party or in writing a letter to my congressional representative.

I like to think there is a more creative solution out there that can get people involved in turning things around, regardless of the percentage they represent.

I’m going to keep looking and maybe if I can’t find what I’m looking for I’ll just have to get political and create it myself. I’ve always liked a challenge.

The Party and Protest of Money

November 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

This week I find myself disinterested in what Republicans and Democrats are up to. Their eyes are fixed firmly on election a year away. Instead I find myself drawn to what is happening on the feisty fringe, among the Tea Party Constituionalists and the  Occupy [insert city name]ists.

Before this week I was mostly distracted by their costumes, inventive signs and penchant for the drum (circle vs accompanying a marching fife). I didn’t take much of their protest seriously. One seemed to be naively stuck in the vortex of a bygone era while the other seemed completely directionless (and maybe a little smelly). It’s hard to get past appearances sometimes.

The more I looked into these movements, the more I realize they are born from a similar place, despite how their ideology has manifested itself. They were both born out of the economically devastating aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The Occupy Wall Street folks focus on those who got us into the mess; the Tea Party on how it has been handled since through stimulus packages and bailouts. At the end of the day, they’re the voice calling for more financial accountability from the people entrusted with our economic prosperity. They’ve both had enough.

When it comes to the issue of the economic crisis, I’ve never really understood what exactly happened. I watched “Too Big to Fail” and “Inside Job” which were informative from the corporate point of view but seemed to be lacking in how the government and the American public played a role in what happened.

This week I found a great overview from This American Life on NPR called The Giant Pool of Money. It’s worth a listen as it describes the whole chain of people from those who created the financial products to those who were living well beyond their means. I still largely blame the financial institutions for taking advantage of those who should have known it was too good to be true but I hold them accountable as well.

The central issue for me is figuring out our financial mess. In my opinion, if we don’t none of the rest of it will really matter. The next question is what is to be done about it? What could I do?

What is My Political Stance?

November 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oops. In my Pre-Thanksgiving stupor I hit save rather than publish on this post. I didn’t realize it until I just started writing my second post. We all make mistakes. Rick Perry will tell you that “oops” is such a good word to use when you do.This week I’m turning my attention to the political world I’ve been tuning out for a good decade or so. My brain is already hurting with the fallout of the stalemate of the Super Committee. Obama issued a dispassionate update to the American public wiping his hands of the issue putting it back on an ineffectual Congress. The Media is more concerned with whose fault our current predicament is than what can be done moving forward. It appears I haven’t missed much.

One might think I’m crazy during the week of Thanksgiving to want to make sense of the current world of American politics. It’s not something I’m especially thankful for at the moment and I know I’m not alone in that. Congressional disapproval is at an all time high of 80%.  The lack of ability to come to agreement is ridiculous and seems hopeless that anything will be accomplished until the 2012 election is decided.

I used to be a big believer in power of the political system. I was President of my high school. When I went to college I majored for a short period of time in Political Science. I was in Student Government and elected Vice President of my university. My Senior year I started a state wide group of student governments to be a voice for higher education reform in South Carolina. It was at that point, when I got a glimpse of how hard it is to get anything accomplished, that I decided it was not for me and got as far away from it as I could.

I have since still voted in Presidential election years, as a Democrat, but I have never really bothered with the issues and accusations floating around the world of politics. A lot has happened over the last decade. Our country is undergoing interesting political changes resulting from the 2008 economic crisis on both sides of the Congressional floor. There’s the Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Wall Street protests to contend with.

I think it’s time to get back in, brush the dust off of my political views and evaluate what’s happening out there. This assumes I will be able to make sense of it, but it is my hope that I can make greater sense of the issues, especially economic ones, and to formulate my stance on who I support in our most pressing issues.

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